Reflecting on the lockdown diary.

A friend of mine on Instagram recently posted a note from a journal they have been keeping from this time last year which simply said “fed up of hearing about COVID 19.” Little did we know, what was about to hit us.

I took a look back at a journal that I started jotting down brief thoughts in since 2019. They are mostly just odd reflections and goals that I want to remind myself of. When I look back to this period and read over my sometimes naive thoughts (yes I was one of those people who thought this might be over by summer) was the sense of determination at the start. I knew something was changing around me, but I didn’t quite know to what extent.

I noted anxiety about meeting people and going to bars starting to creep in to my thinking. My last proper pint was on 16th March in the Lansdowne Hotel, which was empty and I was washing my hands like a mad thing. Little did I know the two times I would go to the bar get a drinks order would be my last for months (table service when everything returned for the summer). I noted worry about some of my family members who had issues with their lungs and the fact that I could maybe bring something back to one of them. Not knowing how this virus impacted people and the horror stories of what we were seeing in Italy and the spread to Spain. Ominous notes dominated the news that within two weeks, this was going to be us.

Then in the days that followed, I made a point of phoning my relatives. Checking in on aunts and uncles in London and Dublin. Beginning to start doing food shopping for my father and wrestling with computer equipment as I started to work from home.

The following months of entries move from determination and anxiety, to boredom, sadness and frustration. Swinging moods of feeling really proud of my attempt to grow carrots to feeling sorrow about not being able to meet up with friends and take in a bit of escapism to clear the mind of the baggage that inevitably comes at you in life, lockdown or no lockdown. Having to make due with Channel 4’s afternoon programmes like “A place in the Sun” and I am reminded I even resorted to listening to an English radio station that covered Spanish news. The challenge for escapism was real. So much so, that I got excited about a day trip to Larne in August for a pint.

My diary reminds me I went for nearly four months without using taxis and the wrestling with face masks.

Noting this sometimes boring, sad, inspired and at times lonely year, was a really good exercise in how you can cope with change and simply do your best to muddle through. For a goal and list orientated guy like me, this was challenging. But sometimes appreciating good moments, creates better perspective. Sitting with a mate who I hadn’t properly chatted with in months, for a few hours outdoors in a pub and yes, even visiting Larne  on a very rainy day and teasing a Unionist friend about Brexit.

The value of talking to others is so important and one that I will try not to take for granted again. The old saying that a problem shared is a problem halved is all very true in this day and when you have spent so much time distancing yourself from others, it’s important to never lose that ability to reach out. That should be to whomever you are comfortable with, maybe it’s a friend, a relative or even a therapist.

In a lockdown diary, you really see you highs are really high but the lows can be long and deeper than you’re used you.

I am not going to do this piece with some obscure or cheesy Heaney quote. Because if you’re anything like me, pious quotes and wishful thinking only give your eyes more exercise as you roll them.

However, going back to perspective, as I note my entry for 15th March 2021, I am writing the following. My Mum is now eligible for a vaccine and will join the growing ranks of my other older family members who have had their first jab. Today, I went out on a long walk and am actually conceiving of the possibility that I might even snag a trip away in the later part of the summer. I an itching for my go, but the Health Minister tells us, that could be late May or June. As I write my biggest problem is my unruly fringe and the DFM advises a pony tail until they reopen hairdressers. The people I feared for last year, some did get COVID 19 but all of them are still here and well.

All of you here, will have your story. This past year has not been easy and for some it has been easier than others. As Allison Morris noted in one of her columns, we might all be in the same storm, but some people are in bigger boats than others. I am fortunate that, whilst there have been challenges, I am here to write a more hopeful entry than the one I did last year.

I hope for many of you reading this, that you ate in a similar position to maybe put in something more positive than what you were contemplating this time last year. I am not sure what’s ahead, but today, I just wanted to reflect on this year with all of you.

As always, your thoughts in the comment section and stay safe.


Photo by Anna Tarazevich is licensed under CC0

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